Self-Promotion: Don’t Be an Ass

You have no idea how many titles I went through before deciding on that one. Okay, it was ten.

I’m referring largely to my experiences on Twitter in this post, but it’s also applicable to social media in general. I recently read two great articles by Delilah S. Dawson: Please shut up: Why self-promotion as an author doesn’t work and Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promo That Actually Works. They hit the internet while I was still on hiatus, so I missed the fallout, but they are still relevant almost a year later. Delilah is much better at discussing these things than I am, so they’re definitely worth reading. Delilah brings up some issues I’ve noticed with other authors attempting to sell their work on Twitter in particular. Most notably, the incessant BUY MY BOOK tweets that flood many authors’ profiles.

I hate those things. Here I am, trying to have a nice time and connect with people, and you’re shoving this book in my face? Even if I do read the genre of book you’re squashing against my nose, the odds of me reading the damn thing now you’ve done that are zero to none.

I may have gotten annoyed earlier this month and tweeted about it:

If you’re going to self-promote, don’t be a broken goddamn record. Delilah suggests less than 10% of your social media should be dedicated to outright self-promotion, and that’s her being generous. Most people use Twitter and other forms of social media to connect with people, not passively consume a wall of glorified billboards.

This also applies to promoting other people’s books. It’s great that you want to share other people’s writing, but too much at once will make a reader feel like they’re surrounded by salespeople screaming BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS. Moderation is key.

When you do promote your work or that of someone else, go easy on the hashtags. I hate seeing half the words in a tweet turned into tags. It’s tacky. Pick a few and look them up to see if they’re even worth tagging in the first place. Don’t just tag anything even tangentially related to what you’re talking about. Do a little research to find the kinds of tags people interested in your book will use. And don’t spam the goddamn tags.

I also hate when I follow someone and get an auto-DM with a link to their website or book. You should have those on your Twitter profile already. DMs are unnecessary and invasive. The occasional tweet with a link to your website or book is more than enough, and even then you want to mix things up and make sure you’re not just sending out the exact same tweet every time. You don’t want to over-saturate the people you’re interacting with.

The whole point here is to avoid looking like a spammer. Users will ignore you out of sheer spite if you piss them off. Interact with people rather than screaming at them to buy your shit. Make connections. Be a human being. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal sometimes, because it proves you’re there to talk to people, rather than talk at them. The important part to that, of course, is you’ve got to avoid pushing an agenda while doing it. It has to be genuine or people will figure you out.

None of these tips will guarantee a strong following or a boost to your sales, but they will make you look like less of a tit in public. So use them. Social media is called social for a reason. It’s not a freaking ad break. Adapt to the climate or get left out in the rain.


4 thoughts on “Self-Promotion: Don’t Be an Ass

  1. You make some excellent points here, not gonna lie, I usually don’t post personal stuff via Twitter because I doubt people care about what I’m doing or have done, but perhaps I should reconsider!


    • You don’t have to get too personal if you’re not comfortable with it. Even talking about something related to whatever you use your Twitter account for can work. Topics of discussion too small for a blog post, for instance. I had a glance at your Twitter feed and, while you post a lot of links, they’re directed towards material that’s of interest to people without using it as a teaser for something they’d have to pay for.


  2. There’s really nothing I WON’T talk about to be honest, but it is nice to know that some people are interested in things that are going on in my life. I mean I never would have thought that. I guess the key really is to balance things out. Thanks a ton for your help (this post really is an eye opener for me).


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